As of December 30, 2020

I’m four months post op from my first surgery and two weeks post op from my last. Looking back on all of the surgeries, the physical challenges were hard, but bearable. The emotional challenges were the toughest, but even those were temporary.

It must be made clear that this whole process has required many sacrifices, as some points it felt like I was sacrificing everything, but it was always worth it. It was a long four months that also flew by very quickly.

I’m thrilled that I was able to accomplish all of this so quickly and can’t imagine dragging it out for a year like I had originally planned. I’d rather have 5 months of recovery than a year of recovery, for sure!

 

In addition to the surgeries every few weeks, I have also seen an OT/MLD Therapist two days per week every week for the last four months and will continue these therapies for the next year- maybe not quite as often, depending on her assessment, but these therapies will continue to be necessary to some extent.

 

 

Moving forward, I will have to wear compression nearly 24/7 for a period of time, though I’m not sure how long. Maybe forever? Maybe 16 hours per day forever? Maybe only every once in a while, depending on swelling, forever?

Regardless, there are long-term, even life-long responsibilities that come with these surgeries, and this disorder.

I am not cured of lipedema and will need to stick to a low inflammation diet—I’m still trying to figure out what that looks like for me and my body, as it is different for everyone. I will also need to move my body regularly in order to help keep the lymphatic system working, for general health, overall quality of life, and because I like feeling like a bad ass.

I still have swelling and tenderness throughout my entire body, even in my lower legs that were done four months ago. Every place that had surgery still has a level of numbness, from the same sensation you get from Novocain at the dentist, where areas feel totally numb and puffy, to the feeling that I’m wearing nylons when someone rubs my skin.

Even four months out from my first surgery, I still feel discomfort during the first few steps I take after being seated.

I still feel tenderness every place on my body where I had surgery when I shift in bed at night, unless I’m wearing compression, and even then, I can still sometimes feel discomfort in the back of my thighs when I sit up, and throughout my whole legs as I take the first few steps upon rising.

I get tingles and twinges of nerve zaps, especially when I lie down in bed at night and sometimes I’ll get a weird cold water drop sensation for no reason at all.

Although it doesn’t bother me, I have dark scars at each incision point, making my body look like a giant game of connect the dots, and the amount of loose fat and skin is quite impressive! I never thought I’d see skin folds in my thighs. HA! (I’m sure a thigh lift is in my future.)

But I have no regrets—at least not yet.

I say, “not yet” because I don’t know what the future holds, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I fear “regrowth” and long-term side-effects like nerve damage/pain. These are very real possibilities. The surgeries may be over (for now) and I’m past the risk of infection or blood clots, but the long-term risks still exist, and will, forever.

I had these surgeries to improve my overall quality of life. To help my lymphatic system work more efficiently, to improve my mobility, to slow down the progression of this degenerative disorder and hopefully get ahead of it before menopause.

I have seen what this disorder has done to my mom (even though she doesn’t believe she has it) and other women who didn’t know or weren’t able to get treatment. I know that I have done what I could do with regards to diet and exercise to manage it. I feel confident that this was my best, and only option left, to slow down the progression.

The aesthetics were never important to me. The way my body looks has no effect on how I feel about it. I love my body more than anything in this world. It provides me with the vessel I need in order to experience the life I get to live. My body is has its flaws, not just in the way it looks, but in how it operates (lipedema, PCOS, hypermobility) but it is resilient and when I care for it, it takes care of me. It may not always allow me to do exactly what I want, but I choose to find joy in what it can do, and work hard to improve myself and my body, inside and out practicing self-love, self-care, and creating sustainable habits that honor myself, my body, and my happy, healthy lifestyle goals.

I may consider reconstructive surgery with a plastic surgeon in the future, if my skin becomes a problem– yeast infections, chafing, or other medical issues. Since skin acts as natural compression, I expect to have some issues, but not sure to what extent. However, for now I’m going to enjoy the body I have, taking my boys on adventures, going hiking, biking, kayaking, skiing, and maybe even getting back into racing again—trading Spartan Races and Triathlons for Adventure Races!

I hope my story helps you make the best decisions for you. Whether it’s to help you decide to use Dr. Byrd, or to help you get insurance coverage, however, it’s extremely important to know that every person has a different experience.

I have been extremely fortunate to have a relatively effortless experience compared to many others and truly believe that my surgeries, recovery, and insurance coverage have been nothing less than exceptional. I hope every woman has the same experience I was lucky enough to have.

I know it can be done. Do your due diligence. Ask questions until you get the answers you need. Don’t make assumptions. Stay on top of your insurance company, and DO NOT BE AFRAID TO FIGHT FOR YOURSELF AND YOUR BODY!

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I hope you find the information in this series of posts helpful. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email me.

<3 Andrea

Andrea Matthes

Body Image and Healthy Lifestyle Coach

Founder of I’mperfect Life, LLC.

www.imperfectlife.com

Andrea@imperfectlife.com

 

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Dr. Byrd/Lipedema Surgery Center https://lipedemaliposuctioncenter.com/

11050 Crabapple Road
Building B
Roswell, Georgia 30075

Telephone: 770.587.1711

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